(This is the fourth in a series of posts reviewing the fundamentals of planning, with an eye for how they’re changing over time. Part one was Form Follows Function. Part 2 was All Business Plans are Wrong. Part 3 was Cash Not Profits.)
I predict accountability is going to be an increasingly important issue as we head into this new decade. The old-fashioned tools of accountability, mainly physical presence, as in hours in the office, or days on the road, are fading. If for no other reasons, it’s because the world can’t continue to support needless commuting, an average of 51 minutes per day in the United States, and way worse in some of the larger cities in the developing world.
So what’s going to happen? We’re going to look increasingly for accountability as part of our real-world business planning process. The plan establishes the metric, and the regular plan review and tracking establish progress towards the metric.
It’s not just sales, costs, and expenses. It’s more metrics for more people, including lines of code, calls, blog posts, tweets, unique visitors, page views, minutes per call, presentations, proposals, emails processed, and so on.
Our tools will give us ever increasing metrics to use. I’m very biased about Outpost, I admit, but if you’re curious you should look into the wealth of metrics it provides on team-managed emails and email addresses, like the firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. And everybody knows about Google and Web analytics, paid search, etc. And telephones and miles are completely trackable.
All of this becomes the concrete specific portion of the business plan, and it is then managed as part of the business planning process. That means that the plan lasts barely a month before results are reviewed. Managing the metrics is a multiple win when there’s regular review, because all the members of the team can easily look on together and see where things have to change. And why.
And that’s the future of planning: management.